This morning I’m travelling to meet a young person so I check my emails on the way. I’ve been waiting for confirmation from social services that another young person, Jess, has been allocated a personal advisor. Jess has turned 18 and is frustrated by the delays in her move to the leaving care team. I’ve been able to explain the process and she knows what to expect but is now eager to make the next step. The news is good: Jess has been allocated a PA. I immediately forward this information - things are finally moving.
I meet Rachel in the café she suggested. She heard about our service from someone I used to support, a friend of hers. This often happens - it tells me that we are providing a good service. At 17, Rachel has been forced to leave home due to domestic violence. She has been placed in an unsuitable bed and breakfast. She feels very unsafe in this placement which she shares with adults as well as an infestation of bedbugs. We will be attending a meeting with the housing department. We have previously discussed the difference between seeking accommodation through housing or social services and Rachel had chosen not pursue Section 20. We clarify the purpose of the meeting we will be attending and what Rachel would like to achieve before setting off.
The meeting doesn’t start well. The housing officer introduces himself with the statement, “We need evidence of the DV”. He is referring to the domestic abuse which forced Rachel to leave her home. We are both taken aback by the directness of the question and I am concerned about the impact this may have on Rachel. I ask if Rachel is happy to speak about this and if there is any other way the information can be obtained, perhaps from social services. Rachel tells me that she is happy to retell her story. The officer then hears her concerns about the placement and makes a referral to hostels with us – this is what she wanted. Part of me is apprehensive that she opted out of social services support, but Rachel is happy . Later on in the evening I will email Rachel’s social worker and housing officer to reiterate her concerns and the agreed outcomes from the meeting.
There’s no time to stop so I buy a sandwich and check my emails and messages again. A client has messaged me saying he has not received his subsistence money from social services and asks me to contact his social worker. I make a few phone calls and feed back the news before calling Sam, the young person I will be meeting next.
Sam is on her way. We meet at the job centre where her Job Seekers Allowance has been stopped. Sam is homeless and has been sofa surfing at friends’ houses. Because of this, she has been unable to attend her appointments at her usual times. This time, with some strong arguments from Sam and I, we manage to convince her advisor that the reasons are genuine and her claim is reinstated. This really could make all the difference.
Afterwards, we sit down and discuss accommodation options. I draw a spider diagram to try and explain the process. It is a difficult conversation as it seems that Sam does not meet the criteria for being priority need. I explain what this might mean for her chances of being accommodated. She decides her best option is to go to New Horizons Youth Centre so I arrange an appointment for tomorrow which I will attend with her. Sam is also keen to start her own business and asks me to pass her number onto our Opportunities Project coordinator so she can get some advice. I’m glad that we can offer this support but wish there was more we could do.
When I get back to the office it is already late. I catch up on some paperwork and make some more calls. A young person who has been sectioned has asked me to make contact with a family lawyer for him. After this, I offer listening support to a young person I have worked with for a long time who has recently lost his job. I contact the manager of a building outside of which a young person is locked – they’ve lost their keys. I catch up with a few young people I haven’t spoken to for a while before sending off some emails and heading home.